Bucknell Gamelan performance features Balinese shadow puppetry
Posted: April 25, 2011
By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Bucknell University department of music will present an outdoor gamelan performance on Friday, April 29, at 8 p.m. in The Grove, located on Loomis Street near Bucknell Hall.
The performance, which is free and open to the public, is funded in part by the Kushell Music Endowment. The ensemble will present a traditional Balinese shadow puppet play featuring the Ramayana-based story Manik Astagina ("The Magic Stone, Astagina").
In case of rain, the performance will be held in Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building.
The highlight of this performance is the traditional Indonesian puppetry tradition known as wayang kulit. In this tradition, one puppetmaster (dalang) controls dozens of thin, intricately fashioned leather puppets behind a large screen. A hanging lamp casts the shadows of the lace-like puppets onto the screen as the dalang simultaneously narrates the evening's selected story, manipulates the puppets, and directs the musical accompaniment.
The Bucknell gamelan is directed by Bethany Collier, assistant professor of music at Bucknell. Collier said that master Balinese musician I Gusti Nyoman "Komin" Darta has been working with the group this semester as part of the Kushell Music Endowment's visiting artist program.
"The ensemble has been studying gamelan batel - the music of traditional Balinese shadow puppetry - for the last several months. We have been carefully coached by Gusti Komin, who has more than 20 years of experience playing gamelan for wayang in Bali. Studying directly with this respected musician has been a remarkable experience for ensemble members," she said.
Originally from the village of Pengosekan, Bali, Gusti Komin trained under his father, renowned musician I Gusti Ketut Kerta, and studied at the national institute for the arts in Denpasar, Bali. A founding member of the celebrated gamelan Çudamani, Gusti Komin has toured extensively in the United States and Europe. Primarily a musician, this performance marks Gusti Komin's debut as a dalang.
One of three in Pennsylvania
A gamelan is a collection of traditional Indonesian instruments, including xylophones, gongs, drums and bamboo flutes of various sizes. Musicians sit cross-legged in front of each instrument, striking each with specially designed mallets. One of only three in Pennsylvania, the Bucknell Gamelan Ensemble performs both Javanese and Balinese music. Bucknell's Javanese instruments were obtained as the result of a gift from 1948 Bucknell graduate Dorothy Seesholtz Mullestein. The Balinese instruments on which the ensemble performs are on loan to Bucknell by Collier.
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